Tuesday, November 30, 2010

a satirical animated cartoon

from Taiwan.

memory place

6 years ago I did a field recording in a newly constructed residential area on the outskirt of Brussels, and I'm thinking if I (re)make an electro-acoustic music out of the materials I got there. One may point out that there is a privacy issue here; the more controversial may be that it includes some children's voices. But that part is actually interesting. For example, a little boy was playing with a radio controlled car; the wind was blowing. When listening to it I can sense the car moving. I could recreate this by buying a radio controlled car(and then how to move the car could become part of the composition...interesting), yet I still want to stick with the place.

I once made something with the materials. The reason why I went there was that the roads of the area were ridiculously named after Hollywood celebrities: "Clos Marilyn Monroe," "Chemin Alfred Hitchcock." I photographed those street signs. And also I asked one of my friends who had grown up near there to talk about his childhood memories and taped it. At that time I couldn't formulate the subject of the piece well, but I still have all the materials.

chemin alfred hitchcock

I've found a sound artist called Andra McCartney, who studied with Hildegard Westerkamp, on Academia edu. In her paper, Sounding Places: Situated Conversations Through the Soundscape Compositions of Hildegard Westerkamp, she details Westerkamp's works: how are they composed?; how are they responded by the audiences? She even performed Westerkamp's Moments of Laughter for female voice and two-channel tape(1988)(following the link, you can listen to the excerpts), which the female voice part can be performed at live. According to McCartney, when it was premiered, the audiences' reaction was rather disappointing. They perceived the piece "too personal." The tape part was mainly composed with Westerkamp's own daughter's voice. When a baby discovers the self and the other, she laughs. Though I've never listened to the whole piece or seen the performance, it appears to me very interesting.

Probably what we perceive as "too personal" has been changed since the time the piece was premiered. I even think "too personal" has been rather popular since the 1990s, and now it may be changing again in these times of, as Eva Illouz puts it, "cold intimacies."

Monday, November 29, 2010

spectacular silence

I certainly do not hate the fact that so many people share this John Cage's iconic piece, but...I don't know how to put it....it's funny(thanks sound designer Tim Prebble for the posting).

4'33" is meant to be shared. It's a spectacle in the first place. In a way, sharing a moment itself is more important for this piece than listening to the silence, or the environmental sound (you can enjoy silence privately whenever you want). In this sense, there may be nothing wrong with this concert.

By the way, stop talking about "American context." I think this is the BBC's bad behavior.

Friday, November 26, 2010

you know which movie has been shot here?

I realized that the cottage was the one shot in Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind before filmmaker Udi Aloni mentioned. I like that film.

By the way, I know how nice Croatian coast is.

the person pronoun and space

If I stand in front of my desk and lean on it with both hands, only my hands are stressed and the whole of my body trails behind them like the tail of a comet. It is not that I am unaware of the whereabouts of my shoulders or back, but these are simply swallowed up on the position of my hands; and my whole posture can be read so to speak in the pressure they exert on the table. (Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, Routledge)

I wonder whether this depiction of the body could have been different, if Merleau-Ponty were a dancer, or a contact improviser. I've just gotten a copy of Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception

The word ‘here’ applied to my body does not refer to a determinate position in relation to other positions or to external co-ordinates, but in laying down of the first co-ordinates, the anchoring of the active body in an object, the situation of the body in face of its tasks. (Ibid)

Perhaps the person pronouns in Japanese language demonstrates this Merleau-Ponty’s observation that, as John Russon puts it, we always find ourselves as a “here,” which means that space occupied by the body and self-consciousness of the body are inseparable. The Japanese person pronouns mostly imply position either physically or socially or psychologically. Though I do not know the exact etymology of those words, I can tell they do not simply indicate a person. For example, the second person pronoun anata connotes "there," and the other one omae "in front of me"--so omae is more confrontational therefore rude. The third person pronoun for a male kare connotes "away from us," or "the man who is not with us." When gossiping, kare or kanojo (the third person pronoun for a female) often refers to "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" respectively. The formal first person pronoun watashi, or watakushi connotes private. One who utters watashi is fully aware that one is facing a public and expressing it. If you use the person pronouns properly, you can show you know your place. They use the person pronouns sparsely, so sentences they utter (even when writing) often lack the grammatical subject, and it actually does not matter. And also they often use kochi and sochi (colloquial "here" and "there") instead of I and you.

Genki dayo. Sochi wa?
Kochi mo genki dayo.”

“How are you?”
“Fine. And you?”
“I’m fine, too.”

When they utter "I," it often means “not the other, but me.” I almost dare say this language does not have the person pronouns in Western sense. In terms of the formula which represents self-identity, A=A, or “I am I,” "I" in Japanese language may be the last I of “I am I.” They do not initiate I in the first place.

But, I am not so interested in whether the Japanese person pronouns shows how different from Western self-consciousness Japanese one is. And certainly I do not apply the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (that language determines perception) here. That's why I said "almost." You can actually say “I am I” in Japanese: “Watashi wa watashi desu.” Or, Popeye’s “I yam what I yam” can be translated as “Ore wa ore da” (ore is one of the informal first pronouns, which emphasizes masculinity). The Japanese person pronouns do not exclude the function of the European person pronouns.

We say, "It's me," "This is me," "Is that you?" especially on the phone. I say I find myself as a "here" when I'm not so sure you recognize that the person talking to you is me. "Here" and "there" generate space between us. But this space is not only separating us, but also connecting us. It is like a line. "Here" and "there" are two ends of a line. If the line doesn't exist, the ends also don't.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

connecting for connecting's sake

I'm not using Twitter or Facebook, perhaps because I'm not so comfortable with networking for networking's sake. Now I'm using Academia.edu because I want to read the other people's papers. If there was SoundCloud in 2006, I couldn't have started using Myspace Music. These days many link Twitter to Myspace, and when logging in Myspace I always find someone updating every hour. It is annoying.

But I understand the fact that Twitter and Facebook are useful for many, especially, business users. They are swelling because they are swelling. The idea of Diaspora seems interesting, because it seems to me that it shows that so many people care about social networking sites.

I assume general social networking sites inherently have a dilemma: their purpose has to remain ambiguous in order to function.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

from "Against the Grain"

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's Empire was written between the end of the First Gulf War and the beginning of Kosovo Conflict. In the 1990s, I didn't read this kind of book much, but I can somehow remember that many were optimistic about development of the World Wide Web. Now we are (reasonably) more or less pessimistic. Reading Empire now helps me know what was going on in the 1990s retroactively.

Jodi Dean: Democracy via Technology?

Harvey on Left Organization; Coyle on Cutting the Work Week

Friday, November 19, 2010

the self-help ethos

According to Eva Illouz, Freud was well aware of the limitation that he could cure only wealthier people and curing the poor people's neurosis did not really make sense. "Freud explained, laborers' social conditions are such that recovery from neurosis will only accentuate their misery." (Illouz, Cold Intimacy, Polity Press, 41) Therapy was supposed to be meant for only the privileged. Freud's point was the fact that one is not one's master, so he did not think his study could be used to let someone climb the social ladder or achieve self realization.

On the other hand, during the process of democratization, laborers have been encouraged to behave like those privileged: "Now you can own a house, car....even Freud. You can be your master." This "Be your master" was not from Freud, however, but from very Victorian notions of individual responsibility. Illouz gives an example of this ethos of self-improvement, citing Samuel Smiles's popular book in 1859 called Self-Help, which was "a series of biographies of men who had risen from obscurity to fame and wealth."

At this point, Illouz does not explain why this self-help culture became so dominant in American society in the first place, but focuses on history of this melange of the self-help ethos and therapy, and discusses how people ended up thinking that those who do not try to achieve self-realization are sick.

in the morning, the writing pad read: "theory meets practice"

I got a copy of Eva Illouz's Cold Intimacies, The Making of Emotional Capitalism. This book is not saying, "Don't be fooled by the flight attendant's smile." but about her observation that capitalism is fostering (increasingly) an emotional culture and that our emotion has in part becomes the driving force of capitalism. I've just taken a look at the first chapter, "The Rise of Homo Sentimentalis," in which she explains how American capitalism absorbed Freudian idea and that "the cultural persuasion of therapy, economic productivity, and feminism intertwined and enmeshed with one another and provided the rationale, the methods, and the moral impetus to extract emotions from the realm of inner life and put them at the center of selfhood and sociability in the form of a cultural model that has become widely pervasive, namely the model of communication."

I remember some criticisms about Freud that he created problems which had not existed before. Perhaps he is not to blame, but conjuring up problems is part of capitalism.

I admit my therapeutic reason for learning dance. I also recall that I was once asked to write "healing" music. I am part of it.

To be honest, I don't know what an artist can do to this, or if an artist should do something against this. But, I share a feeling that there is something wrong with this.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


In his The Self as Resolution: Heidegger, Derrida and the Intimacy of the Question of the Meaning of Being, professor John Russon explains why self-inquiry cannot end, connecting Heidegger, Derrida, and Kant. He discusses a paradox of A=A: when we say "A=A," the first A and the second A are actually different. And then he discusses what "I am I" implies.

It reminds me of Popeye. He is not satisfied with uttering "I'm a sailor," then repeats "I yam what I yam."

1933-Popeye the Sailor- I Yam What I Yam

Popey in 1933, in search of authenticity, beats indigenous people.

big breakfast and a fiction (sort of)

Australian cooking shows are interesting.

I love big breakfast.

Something I got this morning, looks like a fragment of a fiction.

Captured Photos 00000

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I've just made this.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tariq Ali at Sydney Opera House


robot actor

It's interesting BBC often reports about the development of robot in Japan....

Sunday, November 14, 2010

the happiest song...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

bush with a human face?

Tariq Ali discusses President Barack Obama.

The mood can change significantly in two years.

Slavoj Žižek on Obama in 2008.

Friday, November 12, 2010

silence as redemption, a mediocre melody

Composer/sound artist Andreas Bick wrote about the recent commercial use of John Cage's 4'33, The Royal British Legion's 2 Minute Silence and Dave Hilliard's Cage Against The Machine. "In fact, there are two opposing re-contextualisations competing with each other, both using the charity aspect as a key argument." 4'33 of redemption.

I got a mediocre melody in my brain and it didn't leave. So I jotted it down in order to forget. Using functional harmony is all about postponing the end.

a piece

Thursday, November 11, 2010

emotion, consumption, imagination

I'm just watching this.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

the Thicket, Cold Intimacies, and Empire

For a while, I will keep posting every day, bookmarking what I stumble upon.

Marc Weidenbaum introduces the Thicket and interviews Morgan Packard. Morgan Packard and Joshue Ott programmed the Thicket app, which operates on the iPad, the iPhone, and the iPod Touch, as a composition of controlled chance operations of the audio and the visual. As Weidenbaum mentions Jackson Pollock, the body (the fingers) movement alters the visual/audio pattern. Though I was not so interested in some programs with which dancers generate and alter the sound, I've found the Thicket is more interesting because the program itself is an artwork the audience can interact with.

Slavoj Žižek contributes to ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). In this he mentions Eva Illouz's Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism. Google Books allows to read the beginning. It appears interesting. Our longing for authenticity is part of the global capitalism.

I'm reading Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri's Empire.